Chase for Polish DUI Suspect Arrested in Chicago 16 Years Later
By: Mary Ann Pekara
A story of international intrigue is unfolding as a man who is accused of killing two teenage girls in a drunk driving crash in Poland in 1994 has been arrested in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The man, Andrezej Piotrowicz, a native of Poland, allegedly fled that country after the DUI incident and hid out in America. U.S. marshals finally caught up with the fugitive in November of 2009, after working on a tip from Polish law enforcement who were tracking Piotrowicz.
The marshals arrested him in the Belmont Heights neighborhood of Chicago. He had been living with his sister and his elderly mother in a brick home.
Piotrowicz had been working at a precision machining firm in Elk Grove Village called L&W Tool and Screw Machine Corp. for the last ten years. Reportedly his co-workers and bosses were shocked to hear the news of his arrest, and described the man as, according to the Tribune, “a kind, talented operator who worked 60-hour weeks.”
The story that court records tell contrasts that of the quiet, hard-working man who bought his own home and lived with his family. According to records, on a July night in 1994, in Ustka, a Polish tourist destination, Piotrowicz was driving two teenage girls home from the clubs in a car with bad shocks and bad brakes.
He was allegedly drunk as he drove the old Ford along a curving, dark road. He lost control at one point, the car skidded and he ran it into a tree. Patrycja Kaczmarczyk and Malgorzata Osiak died in the incident. Blood drawn and tested at the hospital showed that Piotrowicz had a blood-alcohol content that was six times higher than the legal limit in Poland - and one that is fifteen times higher than the legal limit in the U.S.
Officials didn’t know how Piotrowicz was able to flee the country. Piotrowicz's sister, Ewa, told police that her brother was “broken” in the days after the accident when she visited him.
According to her own signed statement, he asked her if he would go to jail, and she replied that the family would do what it could to keep that from happening. Soon after, hospital staff found that Piotrowicz, who had suffered a concussion, was gone.
Piotrowicz shows up in Chicago records in the mid nineties, after being arrested for suspicion of DUI. In 1996 he got an Illinois driver’s license, and in 1999 he bought a home.
Polish officials claim that it can pursue charges against Piotrowicz until 2019 under an extradition treaty with the U.S. Piotrowicz’s lawyer, on the other hand, claims that the statute of limitations on the crime had expired in 2004.
American co-workers remained perplexed. “He's very hard-working, always courteous, overall just a very good man,” said L&W Tool and Machine Corp manager Joe Sowa. "The owner was saying he would take him back anytime he wanted to come back.”